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‘Everything about me is movies’: The man who made IMDb

A laptop shows the front page of IMDb

(Corbis)

The week’s best arts and culture reads – including essays on Intalian Futurism and why tuba players have it so hard.

The spirit of youth
Morgan Meis | The Smart Set | 26 March 2014
Italian Futurists tried to “break civilization wide open”; to “declare a new age of speed and violence”. But no art escapes from tradition. Looking back on the Futurists’ paintings we see the strong influences of Cubism and of Cézanne. Futurism was distinguished not by its artistic techniques but by its political sensibilities. It “refuses to accept boundaries between art and politics, or between art and life, or art and anything else”.

Big brass: Riding the air stream
Elizabeth Eshelman | McSweeney's | 25 March 2014
The tuba, along with the flute, is “at the top of the list for instruments that take the most air to play”, three times as much as the trumpet or French horn. Players guard against hyperventilation by sucking used air back through the instrument to get more carbon dioxide. Orchestra players co-ordinate breathing: “To avoid any gap in the sound, we write into our music who gets to breathe where.”

Interview: Tim Crane on metaphysics
Nigel Warburton | Five Books | 23 March 2014
Conversation about the nature of metaphysics. It is “the most general enquiry into the nature of reality”; it pulls apart the ideas underlying science, knowledge and consciousness. “When you say one thing causes something else, so one thing makes something else happen, what is that? What is causation? Is there such a thing, what does it involve? This has been a central question of metaphysics since Aristotle.”

Everything about me is movies
Sam Knight | FT Magazine | 21 March 2014
IMDb, the world’s biggest film database, has become ‘Hollywood’s memory’. It is also increasingly part of Hollywood’s future: producers, directors and algorithms use IMDb data to plan, approve, cast and sell new films. Col Needham, a “shy computer programmer”, started IMDb in 1990 by uploading his personal movie log to an internet bulletin board. Amazon now owns it. Needham still runs it, and is still “Hitchcock-obsessed”.

Hold or fold
Leah Price | Times Literary Supplement | 19 March 2014
On Paper, by Nicholas Basbanes, celebrates the 2,000-year history of a medium that has so far outlasted clay, stone, papyrus, parchment, metal, bark, bones, seashells and floppy discs. If the paperless office does arrive, it will do so only after a highly successful rearguard action by paper. Desktop computers (and printers) have only increased consumption of the commodity they were expected to render obsolete.

There are two kinds of novelists …
Matt Seidel | The Millions | 18 March 2014
… But many metaphors for dividing them. For example: “There are robust novelists (D.H. Lawrence), who announce their presence by busting down the front door of your literary consciousness to steal your electronics, and insinuating novelists (Willa Cather), who sneak in through a window after you’ve dozed off and raid your refrigerator”.

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